What I limit myself in spending on make-up products, I channel into upgrading and diversifying my make-up tools - can't quite stay true to that low-buy! Today I wanted to show you an overview & comparison of my eye blending brushes, since I've recently got a couple more buzzed-about specimens and thought this might actually be quite helpful. A little disclaimer before you dive in: I'm not going to pick which of these brushes is the absolute best and tell you to run out and get it. I really do believe brush preferences are very individual as well as dependent on your eye size and shape; but hopefully you'd be able to extrapolate from my comments to suit your own eye blending needs. Another extra disclaimer: I do not own the MAC 217. So there.
Now, while in my eyes (har har), there are no exact dupes in this round-up/ all of these brushes perform slightly different, I obviously do not use them all at the same time. I usually have just one blending brush out that I use to deposit eyeshadow in the crease as well as lightly blend it out, another clean larger brush to further blend out the edges and a smaller, more tapered/pencil brush to deepen the outer V. Nearly all of the brushes shown here are used to place shadows in the crease and buff them out - I don't often faff around with the extra two mentioned above.
There are two basic brush head shapes you can see here: 4 pinched/ oval brushes and 2 round/bullet brushes. I have placed these brushes on a left-right continuum from oval and sporting the longest bristles/most tapered, through oval with shorter bristles, to round with the longest bristles again. Does that make sense to anyone? Hmm, maybe not. Anyway...
1. Wayne Goss Core Collection no. 06 Brush ($25, available on Beautylish, blue squirrel hair)
. The #06 brush has a pinched ferrule and longer bristles, resulting in something between a squashed oval and a paddle-shaped brush. According to the Beautylish representative I spoke to at IMATS, this is supposed to be Wayne's answer to the MAC 217, but I suspect it's actually quite a bit different. Wayne's brushes are handmade in Japan (reportedly in the Hakuhodo facilities) from uncut bristles, and the high quality is evident - the hairs feels luxuriously soft and the brush doesn't shed, but I find that it doesn't hold its shape the best after washing, even when dried in a Brush Guard. Despite that, I do like this brush quite a lot but find it a bit less intuitive/awkward to use because of its bordeline paddle shape and slight floppiness; I have to maneuver and turn it this way and that when blending shadows out, and it picks up less product than its denser brothers. Beautiful brush, but perhaps not the best for the 'whack and go' approach I opt for most days.
2. Sigma Beauty GWP Travel Blending E25 Brush ($12 for regular size, goat hair?)
. I own three Sigma brushes that I acquired somewhat accidentally, and I'm not a fan of either. While the E25 has an almost ideal shape and size to suit my needs (neither too large or too small, oval shape, some resistance to the bristles that allows for more controlled/precise shaping), the execution is rather poor: the bristles are slightly scratchy, the brush head has some unevenly cut hairs poking out, the hairs themselves are almost textured/frizzy and not smooth. It's not my favorite, but I still use it - and the shorter handle on their GWP version is quite handy for travel. I do not however understand the amount of hype surrounding Sigma products, and I will not buy (or uhm, further acquire?) any more of their brushes.
3. bdellium Tools Studio 776 Blending ($9, goat hair?)
. If you want my recommendation for an inexpensive, versatile blending/crease brush, this is it. I've had this particular 776 brush for about three years now (still going strong!), and it remains my most used eyeshadow brush. The 776 has marginally shorter bristles/more compact and rounder head than the Sigma E25, so it's perfectly suited to perform a myriad of functions on my small-ish lids: placing, shaping and blending both powder and cream eyeshadows on the lid as well as in the crease with just the right amount of control. I think it's a fantastic brush for the price, and while the firmer bristles are not always able to create the perfect diffused/blended out transition in the crease, it's simply the quickest and easiest to use for everyday shadow application.
4. Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman Shading Brush ($6, synthetic bristles)
. I hesitated to include this brush in this overview simply because I don't actually use it as an eyeshadow brush - I find it better suited for cream concealer. This is a wide, dense, slightly larger brush, and so not the ideal size for my limited crease space. It does however work fantastically well for really buffing products into the skin: the bristles are soft but quite firm, so you can blend products in very thin layers. I actually think it might work for me as a cream shadow brush; but it is too big for me to place or blend eyeshadows in the crease.
5. bdellium Tools Studio 781 Crease ($10.50, natural bristles, maybe horse?)
. On the other hand, the bdellium 781 is too small for me to use as an eyeshadow blending brush. It's a round, compact, firm brush with a slightly tapered head, a bit larger than a pencil brush but a similar shape. I find it perfectly suited for deepening the outer corners or precise placing of darker shades on the eyes - quite similar to what I was using the limited edition MAC 226 brush for, so if you're looking for a functional dupe, it's worth looking into.
6. Hakuhodo J 5533 Eye Shadow Brush Tapered ($17, uncut goat hair)
. Dear readers, meet my new brush love - the soft, round, slightly floppy J 5533, aka the 'Fluffy'. As you can hopefully see from the group shots, this brush has the longest bristles, and so displays slightly less control than either Sigma E25 or bdellium 776; but it has the upper hand in perfectly diffusing eyeshadows in the crease into nothigness. Because of its softness/floppiness, it doesn't pick up a lot of product, but it's enough for my usual subtle crease needs. The brush head is the perfect size for my eyes, and it's just so, so pleasant to use. A new staple - and I'll definitely work on building my Haku collection in the future. There are so many to choose from!
I think eyeshadow blending brushes are probably the hardest to get just right, and something that's worth experimenting with. For more blending brush nit-picking, including more Hakuhodo, Tom Ford, Paula Dorf, MAC, Suqqu and others (I know) check out Driveller Kate's post here
. Do you own multiple eye blending brushes or do you find just one sufficient for your needs? Do you have any favorites?
Hey Monika, I have Wayne Goss 06 but I can tell you it's not identical to MAC 217! It's sad that the quality of MAC brushes is no longer the same, because I do love my 217! A friend recently went on a trip to Japan, and she's bringing back a Hakuhodo J5523 for me. I'm hoping it's the 217 dupe that everybody says it is! I also own the LMdB crease brush, but it is not as versatile as 217.ReplyDelete
Oh, thanks for weighting in on this, Sunny! Yeah, seems to me like 217 must be more along the lines of the Sigma and bdellium brushes in my collection - but as you say, with the constant decline in MAC brush quality, I won't be picking one up to compare. But maybe like you, I should look into Hakuhodo J5523!Delete
Thanks for these tips -- I don't have the greatest eye brushes! I'm mostly using my fingers, a fluffy brush for blending, an angled eyeliner brush, and flat ones for patting on creams or depositing colour. Will be looking into the 217 dupes like the Hakuhodo. I've been super curious about the Wayne Goss brushes too.Delete
Great round up of blending brushes! I have the Mac 217 and it is FABULOUS. However, it has a hefty price tag and I can't afford to buy another one for when I don't want to clean my makeup brushes. I've heard so many great things about Wayne Goss and Hakuhodo brushes... looks like I will definitely try to get my hands on that Hakuhodo blending brush! New follower! Looking forward to seeing more posts!ReplyDelete
<3 Pauline, Addicted to Makeup
Hi Pauline and welcome! I definitely recommend Hakuhodo from the two brushes I've tried from them - both are amazing! And their eye brushes are definitely reasonable in terms of price :)Delete
I have both the Sigma and MAC217 and while the shape of these brushes are pretty much exactly the same, the MAC217 holds its shape much longer and is less scratchy. However, I didn't know how soft a brush could be until I tried those luxury Japanese brushes. Now my MAC217 feels like sandpaper on my lids >_<ReplyDelete
For my smaller Asian eyes, I need something shorter and more tapered because the longer fluffy ones just make the es application look messy. Thanks for sharing this Monika. Love reading about brushes :-)
Ha, I wish I have gotten a MAC 217 before the quality went rapidly downhill - now I don't see any reason to shell out big bucks for what they offer. Especially that Hakuhodo eye brushes are actually not THAT expensive by comparison!Delete
I have a Sonia Kashuk blending brush (super fluffy and kinda floppy but actually quite useful for what I use it for - just fluffing out edges and lines; I rarely use it to actually apply any product) that I like. I was going to do an eye brush post too, but I don't really have insightful things to say, LOL.ReplyDelete
Hmm, I don't have any brushes from Sonia Kashuk - Claire recently blogged about some of her very old SK ones that she loves. Maybe I should look into it? Please do that post, you ALWAYS have insightful things to say!Delete
I second Larie on SK blending brush. I will have eye brushes post soon. It is a skinnier version of 217 so can be quite precise but floppy to allow lots of blending. Mine holds up extremely well for 10+ years of usage. I think I must caution buying SK brushes right now, I heard from MUA a while back that the quality is not as good anymore, which is sad considering SK is readily accessible & a pioneer on making good brushes available to us all. I'm also interested in hearing what you have to say, Larie!Delete
I find most brushes way too big for my features, including face and eyes, so I rarely use a brush for their intended purpose. But now I want to try Hakuhodo really badly and depart with the gem, "whack and go" as a life mantra. <3ReplyDelete
Hahaha, it's a good life mantra - simple and inspiring :D I've waited a long time to try Hakuhodo brushes too, but when I finally did, I was really impressed!Delete
First off, jealous that you have a Wayne Goss brush. (I'm not big on buying brushes, but if I were, I'd nab half of his stuff) I've only got one Sigma brush (f80), and I ADORE it, but I have heard issues with Sigma's brushes being hit/miss/overrated. Dear lord, that Hakuhodo brush is a BEAUT.ReplyDelete
I don't wear eyeshadow too frequently, so I don't really have a favourite, but it's nice to see a 'roundup' of them, just in case one day I decide to go in the market for not a 217.
Vanessa | Citron and Guavaberry ʘ‿ʘ
That's the one Goss eye brush I have that gets semi regular use, though I completely agree with your assessment. I still find it's a bit too floppy and it just doesn't deposit color how I would like and I find I have to keep dipping and applying oh but then I end up with shadow that has fallen onto my cheeks. I think I keep using it only because unfortunately I was impatient and purchased the whole set of brushes instead of waiting for reviews - keep using it bc I feel guilty that I don't care for a majority of the brushes in that set. Ok, well there's one other one that's not bad but it's not great and certainly not what I was expecting. Plus he goes on and on about the multi functionality of all his brushes and I don't always understand or get it??? Anyway....whoops...sorry such a tangent! I need to check out that Hakuhodo brush! The Makeup Show is coming to Chicago and Hakuhodo is supposed to be there, so hopefully I'll find some goodies :-)ReplyDelete
You def have a great set of brushes. I have that RT brush and I use it in applying cream or concealer for its too big. But I love it.ReplyDelete